Man exonerated after being framed by cop and spending 21 years in jail
Derrick Hamilton, 49, was convicted of the 1991 murder of Nathaniel Cash — even though he had nothing to do with it.
Although Hamilton was paroled in 2011, he has only just now been exonerated of the crime. “One day in prison is too much for an innocent man. [Today is] exhilarating. It’s a grateful day,” he said.
Hamilton says he was framed by the embattled retired NYPD detective Louis Scarcella, who intimidated a woman into believing that she had seen Hamilton shoot her boyfriend.
Jewel Smith told a court that she had seen Hamilton shoot Cash but later recanted her testimony. Several inconsistencies were also inherent in her testimony. For example, ballistic showed that more than one gun was used, and Smith testified that Cash had been shot in the chest despite an autopsy showing he was shot in the back.
Hamilton says he harbors no ill-will towards Smith and said, “I think she was a pawn. She was as much a victim as I am.”
Hamilton’s conviction is the fourth involving Scarcella to be overturned, although Scarcella’s lawyers insist that he has not done anything wrong.
‘To date there has been no finding by any judge, nor has there been a statement by any prosecutor, to sustain the sensational claims that have appeared in the press that Detective Scarcella contributed to any person’s wrongful conviction,” they said.
Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, whose office’s investigation led to Hamilton’s vindication, issued a statement after the conviction was thrown out:
“Wrongful convictions ultimately destroy the lives of the people who are wrongfully convicted, as well as their families, and also do great damage to the integrity of the justice system. The people of Brooklyn elected me to ensure that justice is done and that is what my decision to vacate Derrick Hamilton’s conviction reflects. The Conviction Review Unit carefully analyzed the scene of the crime and based on the scientific and medical evidence concluded that the sole eyewitness’ account was unreliable.”